Italians or Chinese?

I looked in the archives and couldn’t find an answer.

Who was first to create and eat noodles/pasta, the Italians or the Chinese?

Also, what kind of flour do the Chinese use? I think I know that Italian pasta (“authentic”) uses semolina but I would assume that would vary from region to region based on local food crops.

From this site.

The possibility of the ancient Romans (and Etruscans) knowing about pasta has been discussed in two threads in Comments on Cecil’s Columns:

Chinese noodles can be made from wheat flour or from rice flour.

Chinese cuisine from the southern part of the country (where rice is grown) is more rice-based. In the north, where its too cold and dry for rice, noodles made from wheat take over the role filled by rice in the south.

Cool, thanks.

So if I am reading all this correctly, there is no “true” answer but believed to be the Romans based on artifacts…

I wonder how the Chinese created it? This is not clear to me.

Why would you say it’s the Romans, techchick68, since the quote that Q.E.D. gives says that the Chinese knew it from at least 3000 B.C., while the Romans knew it from at least 400 B.C. In any case, pasta has been known for long enough that there’s no way to be sure where it developed. It could have been anywhere between Italy and China.

More or less off-topic, but it annoys me to no end when people get their deities confused. Vulcan is a Roman god. Hephaistos is Greek.

To steer somewhat back on topic this site has this to say:

Ever since humans started to grow and mill cereal crops they must have devised better ways to store their produce. Granaries are one way, but pasta/noodles probably lasts even longer than raw grain. Isn’t it likely that the idea was developed independently in various places - Chinese noodles, Italian spaghetti, N African cous-cous, etc - or it goes so far back (like the growing of cereals) that it’s irellevant.

Now, back to my noodles/beef/kimchee dinner…

In her Did Marco Polo go to China ? (Secker and Warburg, 1995), Francis Wood’s take on the subject is:

She goes on to discuss the origins of ravioli.
Wood’s bias in the matter is expliciately strong, but she does seem to have a command of the details. (FWIW, I’ve heard her personally admit she’s not entirely sure of the thrust of her primary case in the work I’m citing; which is to her credit. I don’t buy it myself.)

Here’s some info about [url= origin of wheat. It seems impossible to show any “Arabic influence” from that alone.

BTW, if Marco Polo didn’t go to China, it’s pretty hard to imagine why he got his name in the official history.

While that site and its links are nice references about wheat in general, as far as I can see, none of them specificially discuss the historical spread of durum wheat, which is what Wood is talking about. This page on the history of macaroni was the most thorough source I could find on the net about the arrival of durum in Italy. From what I can see, it agrees with her, at least as regards the Italian end of the issue. (I haven’t read it all; it contains far more about macaroni than someone who grew up in Seventies Scotland and to whom macaroni is indeliably glop out a can as a result could possibly want to know.) For the record, Wood isn’t pretending to be a food historian - she’s head of the Chinese collections in the British Library - and her reference is Claudia Roden’s The Food of Italy from 1989.

In her argument, by exactly the same means that other historians think he did: Rustichello was a good writer and the pair of them wrote an entertaining work, which was of great interest to their medieval contemporaries and successors. Where she differs is that she suggests that Marco had enough access to information about China from his father and uncle, who had gone at least once, and Arabic traders in the Black Sea region to pretend he’d been. As I’ve already indicated, I don’t find this overall thesis convincing. John Larner’s Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World (Yale, 1999) both argues against Wood (p60-3) and provides an excellent account of the reception and influence of Il Milione.

I meant the official Chinese history. Afterall, Marco Polo was supposed to have spent 13 years in the courts of Kublai Khan. Something like that.

I also found the argument by spread of the durum wheat a very weak one. Just because people making noodles and other stuff with durum wheat now doesn’t mean they didn’t start with some other form of wheat.

You may be thinking of Pauthier’s old claim to have identified a Polo in Chinese records, but the individual in question is now believed to have been a Mongol. There are no known references to the Polos in Chinese records, though it’s obviously impossible to say that there are none yet to be found. See Larner p31 (and p199) or Wood p135-6.
As for the durum argument, it’s clearly an issue of definition.

[Tony Soprano]
Why would people who eat with sticks invent something you need a fork to eat?
[/Tony Soprano]

It’s kinda like who invented fire. Parallel discoveries is pretty likely.